10 top tips for buying your dream horse

The process of buying a new horse can be a daunting and certainly one you need to go into with your eyes wide open. It may take time and perseverance to find the perfect match, but there is nothing more rewarding than experiencing that special bond grow between horse and human.

If you’re not sure where to begin on your quest to finding eternal equine happiness, read on! Follow our easy ten step guide to help you on your way to finding your dream horse.

1. First, question the commitment.

Are you able to fulfil the financial commitment of owning a horse, and to care for it to the highest standard? If you’re a first-time buyer, check out this useful resource from the BHS which outlines the expected cost of owning a horse in the UK.

You must also make sure the decision to buy a horse works around your lifestyle. Do you have time to do a horse justice alongside your full-time job? Have you got suitable stabling arrangements? These are just some of the questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin the process. If it’s looking positive so far, then let’s begin!

2. Search for a horse online and offline!  

There are loads of ways you can find out about horses that are for sale. Start off by browsing websites such as Horsemart, HorseQuest and Morzillo, then perhaps look further afield on Facebook groups such as 'Horses for sale and loan'. As technology is becoming more prevalent in the horse industry the days of endless printed advert pages in horsey magazines are diminishing. Still, its worth looking at the adverts in your local tack shop or feed merchants to see what may be for sale in your area! 

3. Choose a type which is suitable for your lifestyle and ability.
Do you dream of galloping an athletic thoroughbred around a challenging cross country course, when your comfort zone lies within the security of that indoor school? Be realistic, look for a type which reflects you!

4. Take your time, there’s no rush!
You can’t help it, you’re human, as soon as you hit search on Horsemart you’ll want to buy the first horse you set your eyes on. But hang on one minute! Take a deep breath. There’s no rush. Only make the decision to buy when it feels absolutely right. If you can’t find anything suitable, don’t settle for second best! Be patient, keep checking www.Horsemart.co.uk every week and try lots of horses until you find the perfect one.

5. Take someone with you to try the horse.
We advise you take someone with you when going to try a horse. Ideally your trainer or someone with good equestrian knowledge to provide an expert second opinion! Get them to video everything on your smartphone so you can watch back when you get home.

6. Buy from a reputable seller.
If you are buying from a professional rider or horse dealer, you should carry out some research online to verify that they are genuine. Social media is a good place to start, see if you can find any testimonials from people who have previously bought horses from them. You should also ask your friends and equestrian connections if they have had an experience dealing with them.

7. Ask lots of questions about the horses’ history.
It’s unlikely that the buyer would have owned the horse since a foal, but they should have a good idea of it’s recent history. What had the horse done when they bought it, and what have they done with it since? There’s also some information you can find online, for example all British Eventing competition records can be found at www.Britisheventing.com.

8. Go back for a second viewing.
Don’t get too carried away on your first visit, take time to go home, look over videos that your trainer has taken sleep on it. If you think this is ‘the one’, ask if you can go for a second viewing, preferably away from home e.g. cross country schooling. It’s also good to view other horses within your budget so you have a comparison!

9. Make sure the horse has a passport and microchip
By law all horses must have an Equine Passport. It’s essential you do a passport check to ensure that the horse and the passport match (breed, age, height etc) ! Most horses are also microchipped, which makes the verification process a lot easier! We also recommend that you check the passport for the horses vaccination history as well as ownership history. If the horse has had lots of different owners, why is this? Ask LOTS of questions!

10. We strongly advise you get a 5 stage vetting
Buying a horse is a huge investment, so don’t be tempted to cut corners by opting for even a two-stage vetting! Getting a five stage pre-purchase veterinary examination leaves no stones unturned. After briefing the vet on what purpose you intend to buy the horse for, e.g. eventing / dressage etc , the examination will begin with this criteria in mind.

Stage One: Overall examination of confirmation, heart rate and breathing as well as checking for any abnormalities such as sarcoids and old defects from old injuries.

Stage Two: Lameness evaluation by trotting up on a hard surface in a straight line. This is followed by flexion tests of the lower limbs and a lunging on each rein in trot. 

Stage Three: Observation of the horse when under strenuous exercise, usually when ridden. The vet will check for abnormal behaviour when mounting (such as a dipped back) and its movement under saddle. After exercise, the vet will listen to the horses heart and breathing.

Stage Four: A 20-30 minute rest to check for any stiffness upon re-examination.

Stage Five: Finally, the horse will be trotted up once more and any areas of concern will be addressed. The vet will then take some blood samples. At this point, he is obliged to reveal his opinion to the buyer however does not yet have to do the same for the vendor.  

In conclusion, perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of buying a horse is the fear of the unknown. Knowing, and trusting the horse’s health, ownership and training history from the vendor is very important, but not always guaranteed to be accurate.

In the development of our 24/7 monitoring device we have worked alongside equine veterinarians, many of whom say that one of the most exciting aspects of Trackener is that it allows us to view a complete health history of a horse. Our dream at Trackener is that one day all horses will wear a Trackener device. This is a huge dream, but even if a small percentage of the worlds’ horses wore Trackener in five years time, the horse industry would become a much more honest place!